Trial News: The trial of Pr. Bradley Schmeling, January 19-21, 2007 is taking shape, and information about pre-hearing preparations is gradually being made public (thanks to LCNA Executive Director Emily Eastwood). At issue in the trial is whether Pr. Schmeling should be removed from the ELCA roster because his relationship with his partner conflicts with the ELCA policy expressed in "Vision and Expectations of Ordained Ministry" and "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline".
Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson has chosen the hearing officer and the technical and facilities advisors who will manage the hearing. The hearing committee which will decide the issue (12 people, 6 from the ELCA at large and 6 from the Southeastern Synod) has also been selected.
Pr. Schmeling requested an open hearing, but Bishop Ron Warren exercised his right to delcare the hearing closed, and visitors will not be allowed into the proceedings.
Bishop Warren's counsel asked that Pr. Schmeling agree to total media silence. Pr. Schmeling refused.
ELCA rules limit each party in a closed hearing to two official representatives, usually counsel. Pr. Schmeling asked the hearing officer to allow the attendance of a limited number of additional attendees. The Bishop's counsel countered that additional attendees be allowed only in return for an agreement on total media silence. Pr. Schmeling has declined this counter offer.
Note to Higgins Road: That rumbling noise is not the El. There is at least one lay person (in a congregation not far from the Lake) who is asking whether the expense of a trial to remove one pastor from the roster is good stewardship. Bishop Warren has vowed to say nothing about the matter until the trial is over.
Anniversary: November 19 was the anniversary of the adoption of "Definition and Guidelines for Discipline". The original document was approved by the ELCA Church Council on November 19, 1989.
Statute of Limitations: A church trial for a Presbyterian minister ended on November 15 after a panel decided that the charges against her for conducting the wedding of two lesbians were filed four days too late. The Rev. Janet Edwards, a minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a pastoral associate at the Community of Reconciliation in Oakland, faced charges for a marriage ceremony she celebrated in June 2005. The denomination's high court has said that Presbyterian clergy may bless same-sex couples as long as the ceremony does not resemble a marriage liturgy. ~ Paula Reed Ward,
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Saluting Pr. Paul Tidemann: On November 19, members of St. Paul - Reformation Lutheran Church in St. Paul, MN, gathered to salute Pr. Paul Tidemann who will retire at the end of 2006. Among the special guests present for the occasion were Greg Egertson, co-chair of LLGM and Jeannine Janson, co-chair of Lutherans Concerned.
Throughout his career, Pr. Tidemann has been a tireless advocate for the Gospel and for justice. He was instrumental in the formation of Wingspan MInistry and led the congregation through its decision to call Pr. Anita Hill in 2001. At the 2005 Churchwide Assebmly he spoke eloquently on behalf of the cause of full inclusion for people of all gender identities. And while is known outside the congregation for his work in the public sphere, at St. Paul - Reformation church, he is highly regarded for his care of God's people and his stewardship of the ministry of Word and Sacrament.
Denomination Blues: From the Biblical Recorder, the weekly journal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina we learn that on November 14, 2006, the Baptist State Convention passed the "Sanderson Motion," an amedment to its governing documents that would exclude from BSC membership churches thought to affirm homosexual behavior.
And also on November 14, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination which reads in part:
While the Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral, she does distinguish between engaging in homosexual acts and having a homosexual inclination. While the former is always objectively sinful, the latter is not. To the extent that a homosexual tendency or inclination is not subject to one�s free will, one is not morally culpable for that tendency. Although one would be morally culpable if one were voluntarily to entertain homosexual temptations or to choose to act on them, simply having the tendency is not a sin. Consequently, the Church does not teach that the experience of homosexual attraction is in itself sinful. The homosexual inclination is objectively disordered, i.e., it is an inclination that predisposes one toward what is truly not good for the human person.
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